These are some of the tools that we use to help us in our research:
|Electroencephalography (EEG) is a tool that allows us to non-invasively record electrical brain activity from the surface of the scalp.
This is achieved by fitting participants with an elastic cap containing a number of electrodes that sit on the scalp. The electrical activity recorded using EEG reflects the summed activity of thousands or millions of neurons that are active in synchrony.When participating in an EEG study, you will get the chance to see your brain waves in action.
Event Related Potentials (ERP)
|We can also use EEG to examine the electrical brain activity associated with specific cognitive processes. This is achieved by recording EEG while participants perform a task that engages cognitive processes of interest. While participants perform a task, the EEG that we record will reflect a combination of brain activity associated with cognitive processes involved in performing the task, as well as ongoing brain activity that is unrelated to the task. By averaging EEG across many trials of the task, activity unrelated to the task should disappear in the averaging process, leaving only electrical activity associated with cognitive processes. What we are left with are known as event-related potentials (ERPs).|
|When we experience an emotion it is not only expressed in our mind but also in our body. Think of the butterflies in your stomach before you give a speech or the smile you can’t wipe from your face before reuniting with an absent loved one. These expressions in our body can be measured and the process of measuring them is called psychophysiology. There are many ways to make these measurements. Here in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab the approach generally taken is to place sensors on the surface of the skin, above specific muscles, then record how these muscles respond as you participate in a variety of tasks.|
|The eyes are the window to the soul. When we look at the world, our eyes don’t move smoothly across the scene. Instead they jump from spot to spot, lingering in the places that are most interesting, or most important, or most relevant to our current goal. In the lab, we use eyetracking to help us identify those features or objects that are most relevant to people, and to determine the role of emotion in guiding our looking behaviour.|
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
|tDCS is a safe non-invasive technique which can be used to temporarily influence brain activity. Two electrodes are placed on the scalp (see figure), and a weak electrical current flows between these electrodes. tDCS does not directly produce or stop neural activity, but rather acts as a modulator of neural activity. It does this by increasing or decreasing cortical excitability.|
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
|Like tDCS, TMS is a safe non-invasive technique that temporarily influences brain activity. A magnetic coil is placed on the head, which sends out electromagnetic pulses. These pulses stimulate the brain, causing neural depolarisation or hyperpolarisation and temporarily disrupting cortical activity. Alongside neuroimaging and neurotracking techniques, TMS enables us to target specific areas in the brain to examine their role in human functioning. To participate in a TMS study, you will first get an MRI brain scan (and will receive a picture of your brain on completion of the study).|